Thursday, September 29, 2022

New And Improved, But Better?

"But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, in as much as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises."
Hebrews 8:6 (NKJV)

One thing that I really do not like is when some product claims to be new and improved, but it is really only slightly changed.  It may be that the outside of the package, the logo, or some color scheme is different, but nothing of substance or value is better than it was before.  Sometimes I have seen things that say that they were updated, in my phone, tablet, or computer, but nothing is really new, improved, or better in any way.  To really be new and improved, something would also need to be better.

The Bible contains the Old and the New Testaments.  Another word for testament is covenant, or even contract.  Today, we have a new testament, a new contract with God that is better than the old.  What is better about this new covenant with God?  Because of our new, improved, and better covenant, we can have a personal relationship with God; He is our Father and we are His children, our sins are not just covered, they are washed away, and we have the Greater One, the Holy Spirit, who is our Helper, living in us. 

So many Christians live a life far below what God intends them to have, because they do not understand their position with God as a part of the new and better covenant that came through Jesus Christ.  God's Word tells us about this new, improved, and better covenant with God, so we need to go to the Bible to learn what belongs to us, and allow the Holy Spirit to help us see how to live as a new covenant Christian.  We need to know about, and live in the reality of our new, improved, and better, covenant with God.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Pay Attention!

"My son, give attention to my words, incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart;.

For they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.
Proverbs 4:20-22 (NKJV)

There are many things we need to pay attention to in life.  If you are driving your car, you need to pay attention to speed limit signs and traffic directions.  In a school setting, you have to pay attention to the teacher and what you are learning, so you pass the tests and actually learn the material.  On your job, there may be things your boss or a co-worker tells you that you need to keep your focus on and pay attention to, to do your job correctly.  If you do not pay attention, the results are usually less than success.

In the Book of Proverbs, it refers several times to the need to pay attention to something in order to learn, gain wisdom and understanding, and avoid problems.  The results of not paying attention are never seen as a good thing, but it is important to notice that while the need to pay attention is stressed, there is nothing indicating that someone is going to be forced to pay attention.  Paying attention is something we have to make a choice to do, and it is not something that is automatic.

So many times, people do not pay attention to and keep their focus on the right thing, because they are distracted by something else.  By paying attention to the wrong thing, and not keeping our focus on the right thing, it is easy to make mistakes and do things that we should not be doing.  We must pay attention to and focus on God's Word and the leading of the Holy Spirit, and learn to filter out other things.  This is the only way we can successfully navigate our way through life and fulfill the will of God.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Fruitful Works, Or Just A Lot Of Works?

"For this reason we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;"
Colossians 1:9-10 (NKJV)

Quality and quantity are not the same thing.  For example, you could have one diamond, and it would be more valuable than a pile of ordinary rocks.  The quality of the diamond is greater that than of the rocks, even though the quantity of the rocks would be greater than the one diamond.  But, if you did not understand this concept, you might just think that by having a mountain of ordinary rocks, that meant you were some wealthy individual, but that quantity of rocks does not surpass the quality of the diamond.

Quality and quantity are also something that can relate to what we do as we serve God.  The Bible says that we were created for good works (Ephesians 2:10), that God is looking for people who are eager to do good works (Titus 2:14), and that we should be ready to do good works (Titus 3:1).  But this does not just refer to a lot of activity, because as Colossians 1:10 tells us, God wants us to be fruitful in our good works.  This is talking about quality over quantity.

We may be doing a lot of good things, but are they the things God is directing us to do?   This is a big factor in the quality of what we do compared to the quantity.  We can do a lot of things, but if God is not leading us to do those things, we may not have much real fruit as a result.  We need to be sure that we are faithful to do what God tells us to do, through His Word and by the Holy Spirit, so that we can have a high quality of fruitful good works and not just a quantity of works.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

What Will You Look Back At?

"Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
2 Corinthians 5:9-10 (NKJV)

Planning ahead and setting goals for the future is a good thing to do.  When planning for the future, it can be helpful to look back at the things that were done in the past.  If we are building a business, trying to live a healthier lifestyle, or working on managing our money better, by looking back at what we did before, it can help us move forward into the future.  No one wants to look back and regret that they did not make any necessary changes when they had the chance to do so.

One day, Christians will leave this world to go to be with Jesus.  This is a basic Christian belief, and the Bible also shows us, in places like 2 Corinthians 5, that Christians will go to what is called the Judgment Seat of Christ.  Many people have a misunderstanding about what this will be.  At the Judgment Seat of Christ we will not be punished there for our sins or judged to see if we can get into Heaven, because Jesus took sin on Himself and He made the way for us to get into Heaven.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is where we will be rewarded for what we did in this world.  Did we live a life that was pleasing to God, was that our life's goal, or did we live our lives for ourselves?  One thing no Christian would want is to meet Jesus and then look back in regret at their life and wish they had done more to follow God's plan; no one is going to look back and wish they had done less for God.  We all need to have serving and pleasing God as our highest priority in life.  That way we will have a bright future and we can look back at a life well lived.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Overcoming, By Faith

"For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith."
1 John 5:4 (NKJV)

If you asked people for their opinion about the best way to run or jog, you could have as many answers as you do people.  People might talk about the clothes you should wear, the best brand of shoes, or even where the best place to run or jog would be.  Sometimes people have all kinds of ideas what is necessary for someone who wants to run or jog on a regular basis, but most of the things people would mention are more in the area of style than substance.  No matter what other things you might do, to be a successful runner, you have to run or jog.

If you asked Christians about how to live a victorious life, you might get a lot of different ideas.  Some would tell you to pray many hours a day, others would tell you that reading and studying multiple chapters of the Bible on a daily basis would be the key, and others would talk about how someone needed to go to a special meeting or have some man or woman of God pray for you.  But, in 1 John 5:4 we have the answer to living a victorious Christian life, we overcome by faith. 

The Christian life is a faith life.  We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8), we are justified by faith (Romans 3:28), we live by faith (2 Corinthians 5:7), and we overcome by faith (1 John 5:4).  Everything we do must be done by faith in God and His Word.  We don't overcome in life because of anything in ourselves, but because of Jesus.  There are many ideas about what it takes to live an overcoming Christian life, but the only way to overcome is by faith, based on what Jesus did for us as revealed to us in God's Word.